Hundreds of South Australians have received much-needed surgery since South Australia became the first state to restart elective surgery after the nationwide shut down in March in response to COVID-19.
SA Health data reveals the number of overdue elective surgery patients has dropped by 21 per cent since the waitlist hit its peak at the end of May.
Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said South Australia has been leading the fight against COVID-19 and was the first state in the nation to restore elective surgery when it was safe to do so.
“The SA Government has had a clear focus on reducing the overdue elective surgery list halving it before the pandemic and we remain committed to delivering that relief for South Australians,” Minister Wade said.
“When the decision was made to recommence elective surgery in May, the first several weeks were spent gradually ramping up to full capacity based on expert health advice.
“While we saw our overdue elective surgery waitlist peak at the end of May with a total of 2,792 overdue patients waiting, within a month this has dropped by 597 overdue patients.
“We have invested $45 million to bring the overdue list down and since the recommencement of elective surgery, South Australian public hospitals have been steadily working to reduce the backlog caused by COVID-19.
“While there is still plenty of work to do, we are pleased to see the overdue numbers considerably decreasing each week with the initial focus on essential surgeries facing the most urgent need.”
For the period 15 June to 21 June 2020, there were 763 elective surgery admissions in metropolitan hospitals, and of those, only seven per cent were overdue category one procedures.
The specialities with the highest overdue numbers currently throughout the system include orthopaedics, plastic surgery, ENT, urology, and gynaecology.
Department for Health and Wellbeing (DHW) Executive Director of Health Services Programs and Funding, Helen Chalmers, said DHW is working closely with individual Local Health Networks (LHNs) to implement strategies to safely maximise elective surgery going forward.
“Strategies include undertaking additional procedures internally or utilising other hospitals such as in the private sector to perform procedures under existing partnership arrangements,” Ms Chalmers said.
“While all LHNs currently have overdue elective surgery lists, the decrease we have seen has particularly been driven by the Central Adelaide Local Health Network which has reduced their overdue list by 29 per cent, and the Women’s and Children’s Health Network by 78 per cent since the end of May 2020.